When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlof the Extreme Crime Squad. But as he investigates, the evidence points to conspiracies far stranger and more deadly than anything he could have imagined.
Borl must travel from the decaying Beszel to the only metropolis on Earth as strange as his own. This is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a shift in perception, a seeing of the unseen. His destination is Beszel's equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the rich and vibrant city of Ul Qoma.
With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, and struggling with his own transition, Borl is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of rabid nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman's secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them and those they care about more than their lives.
What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.
Casting shades of Kafka and Philip K. Dick, Raymond Chandler and 1984, The City & the City is a murder mystery taken to dazzling metaphysical and artistic heights.
©2009 China Mieville; (P)2009 Random House
"Daring and disturbing...Miéville illuminates fundamental and unsettling questions about culture, governance and the shadowy differences that keep us apart." (Walter Mosley, author of Devil in a Blue Dress)
"An excellent police procedural and a fascinating urban fantasy, this is essential reading for all mystery and fantasy fans." (Booklist)
"Mr. Miéville's novels - seven so far - have been showered with prizes; three have won the Arthur C. Clarke award, given annually to the best science fiction novel published in Britain…. [H]e stands out from the crowd for the quality, mischievousness and erudition of his writing…. Among the many topics that bubble beneath the wild imagination at play are millennial anxiety, religious cults, the relationship between the citizen and the state and the role of fate and free will." (The New York Times)
I had Neil Gaiman's "Neverwhere" in my head when I read the synopsis of this book. It is nothing like that. In fact, the author uses made-up terms in a manner that just assumes you already understand them. So much so that for the first 2 hours I thought I was listening to the wrong book because it really didn't seem to match the description. Even after I started to put the pieces together, the plot was just not interesting to me. The author went so far out of his way to manufacture a compelling plot that it felt as such. Unfortunately for me, I have a hard time refusing to consume something that I've paid for, so I suffered through this overly drawn-out work for no good reason.
A perfect fantasy novel. Mieville creates a bizarre setting and makes it feel completely plausible. He then explores every possible permutation of it, drawing out the richness in the central conceit. It's a tour de force.
The reader is slightly irritating at first - he keeps pausing before the some of the hard-to-pronounce words - but you'll get used to his odd diction, and in a way it rather suits the novel, giving it a sense of foreignness.
The author has a very creative idea about two cities belonging to rival nations. The people are trained not to see what goes on in the "other city" even when it is right in front of them. But after while this gets old and, finally, irritating. I stuck with the entire book and enjoyed it from time to time, but cannot recommend it.
Our world has had divided cities, Berlin wih it's wall, Jerusalem pre 1967, etc. In this novel there is a divided city split on quantum physics (That is my guess as i's never really fully explaned) where people in one can see those in the other, but are trained not to. It's as if there are two city maps one on top of the there, at some places they are the same, at others totally distinct. Once you get this premise down it is just a detective story, but set in a very different type of location. The novelty and writing skill come in making this seem plausible and in making the story utilize the uniqueness of this enviornment. I thought it was very well done. I also liked Perdido Street Station by the same author very much.
I know this shared a Hugo Award, but I am not sure why this is considered science fiction. It is a decent detective story, taking place in the present day with no real mention of technology other than some "artifacts" that are never talked about in detail.
OK as a detective read, but as science fiction I was dissapointed.
I really enjoyed this book. It was well written, the plot was original, the characters compelling and the end was satisfying. The author did such an excellent job building the unique landscape of the story. The story itself is a little complex and not for someone looking for a light plot. I also love the parallels that can be drawn with other border and immigration issues that we encounter around the world.
This book would make a great movie!
The book introduced an interesting concept of parallel cities; however, the concept was confusing and extremely difficult to visualize.
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